GENERAL UPDATE The IWT was also very busy with running events this spring. In addition to our branch events, we started our first set of wildlife talks at St. Enda’s Park in Rathfarnham and held an Easter Nature Trail, which was a great family day out. In May we also took part in National Biodiversity Week, hosting a range of events around the country, including wildflower identification, woodland, lichen and shore walks, bat walks, Natterjack toad searching and finding wildlife in an urban setting.
IWT AND TEAM BROC BADGER UPDATE By Pádraic Fogarty, IWT Campaigns Ofﬁcer.
Team Broc was established in 2014 as a coalition of environmental groups and concerned individuals united in opposition to the badger cull. Late in that year we had meetings with Department of Agriculture officials and, separately, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). We were given an update of the vaccination programme that is currently underway in counties Monaghan, Longford, Galway, Waterford and Louth. We were told that preliminary results from the longer-running Kilkenny vaccination trials are positive although we will have to wait until later this year before seeing any concrete data. Team Broc members believe that vaccination of badgers is the only long-term solution to the issue but we expressed our concern at the length of time it is taking to see any meaningful transition. Our fears are that culling will continue so that some areas of Ireland will effectively become permanently badger-free, and that there will never be an end to the cull. We heard nothing at this meeting to assuage these concerns. Our subsequent meeting with NPWS was more focused on badger conservation. We were disappointed to hear that although there is an official admission that the Irish badger population is shrinking, the body charged Badger. Photo: M. Brown. with conservation of our wildlife believes the 26-year-old culling programme is ‘sustainable’. This is indeed an odd definition of that word. There was little concern for the fact that badgers are culled throughout the year, including the breeding season, something that, as well as being inhumane, would be a strategy designed to wipe an animal out. We were told that the NPWS is not an animal welfare organisation. This is all very unsatisfactory. The population of badgers in Ireland is believed to be somewhere in the region of 80,000 however we have never had a full survey of badgers in this country. A conservation assessment by the NPWS as being of ‘least concern’ was based on no supporting data whatsoever. Neither have we ever had an independent assessment of the impact that the badger cull is having on the population of this so-called ‘protected’ animal. The IWT and Team Broc are very concerned that the cull has now become uncritically entrenched in official thinking and that this unquestioning atmosphere is doing long-term damage to badger populations. With this in mind we have written to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to remind her of her duties to protect the badger population under the Wildlife Act and to urgently undertake an independent assessment of the impact of the cull. Data released by the Department of Agriculture earlier this year showed that the national incidence of TB in cattle herds stood at 3.64% in 2014, down from 3.88% in 2013 – far from the eradication of the disease that was envisaged when the policy was launched in 1989. Why, it has to be asked, is the disease still so prevalent if the badger cull is as effective as Minister Simon Coveney and his officials continue to claim?
WILD WATCH WEEK - JULY 13th - 19th This year the IWT will also host its ‘Wild Watch Week’ from July 13th – 19th. Check out our website www.iwt.ie/wild-watch-week-2015 for more information on events.
Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15
Published on Jun 9, 2015